More Green At Westlake Academy

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The Westlake Academy of Dallas-Fort Worth looks like a traditional school but don’t let the natural stone walls fool you.  Westlake Academy wants to be green and greener and then some.  The local director of facilities and recreation summed up the mindset of the school and the surrounding community; “We want to be good stewards of the environment.”What Westlake has found is that the students want the same thing.  “Green is becoming the new democracy.  It is just the right thing to do.” Westlake was designed to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification and has taken sustainability a little further each year.  A recent initiative calls for replacing all exterior lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs that use 75 percent less energy than the conventional 75-watt bulbs previously used.What Westlake is experiencing is typical for environmentally friendly buildings and campuses.  What started as a design and concept that was somewhat unfamiliar to the faculty, administration and student body has expanded into a way of life.  Now, the community is embracing green programs.Since initiating its sustainable programs, the school has now installed a new drip irrigation system and has planted local greenscape that requires less water and can tolerate dry conditions.  The new irrigation system should reduce water usage by 75%.The school was renovated six years ago.  After a meeting with a green consultant, the administration rolled up their sleeves and sought innovative ways to involve the students and all school employees in the sustainable effort.Every year a new initiative is launched.  Students have been educated in the advantages of sustainability and have pro-actively engaged the concept.  Westlake has a stellar recycling program that works in every classroom and hallway on the campus.A new arts and science center is scheduled to open sometime in August.  The building is awaiting the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating, but is fully committed to eco-friendly practices.Schools are finding that LEED® certifications not only are environmentally worthwhile, but they help to create a constructive mindset for students.  The message is clear.  Save the planet and everyone wins.

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